Constitutionalising a Human Right to Water in the Southern African Development Community



At present no binding human rights instrument referring to an explicit right to water exists within the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) human rights legal framework. There are, however, implicit references to such a right within a number of SADC policy documents, and three Constitutions of SADC member states (South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) explicitly contain a right to water. In order to provide the peoples of SADC a legal basis upon which to enforce these implicit and explicit human rights, a SADC human right to water must be constitutionalised within a binding human rights instrument. In giving content to this proposed constitutionalised human right to water the ‘reading in’ approach found in General Comment 15 of the Committee on International Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as interpreted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights will be applied to specific SADC water policy documents. In this manner, references to aspects related to the right to water – most notably water quality and water quantity will be identified and discussed. These references will be interpreted and will be applied to inform the content of the proposed constitutionalised SADC human right to water.


  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 16 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: 60-74
  • DOI: 10.36633/ulr.573
  • Published on 30 Oct 2020
  • Peer Reviewed